Believe it or not, some of the worst problem behaviors with dogs occur at the front door. Dogs can bolt out the door when you open it — which can lead to a lost dog or a dog that’s hit by a car.
Dogs jump on people when they enter the house — one of the problems most frequently cited as a problem behavior. Other dogs have a problem letting their owners know when they need to go outside because they haven’t mastered a good way to communicate using the door.
So, with all of these problems in mind, it’s a good idea for your dog to learn some door manners.
Teaching Your Dog Door Manners – Where to Start
The best place to start in teaching your dog door manners is to make sure that he knows the Sit command. You can teach him to sit very easily by using a piece of food to lure him into a sitting position. With your dog standing simply hold a treat slightly over his head and slowly bring it backwards.
As you move the treat back your dog will tend to follow the food with his head. This will bring his body beneath him and he will assume a sitting position. You can praise him then and give him the treat. Do this a few times and add the Sit command.
Next you can move on to teaching your dog to sit while you open the door. Your dog should be wearing his collar and a leash. You can move to the door and, before opening it, tell your dog to Sit. When he sits praise him and give him his treats.
Chances are that when you start to open the door he will hop up ready to run out. You should have your foot placed on his loose leash at this point. When he pops up the leash will pull him back down. Tell him to Sit. When he sits again you should praise him and give him his treats.
The good part about this method is that, technically, you aren’t pulling his leash. Your dog is correcting himself.
Each time you open the door and your dog pops up you should have your foot on his leash so he will pull himself back to the sitting position.
You then praise him and treat him for being a good boy and sitting. Eventually you should be able to go out the door without your dog popping up or trying to run out the door.
Taking it to the Next Level
You can teach your dog to sit at the door when other people come in, too. You will need a friend to help you. When your friend knocks at the door or rings the bell, let your dog respond as usual when a visitor arrives, even if that means they bounce and bark to the door.
Go to the door and tell your dog to sit. Put your dog’s leash on his collar and tell him to sit. Praise him and give him a treat. Place your foot on your dog’s leash. Let your friend in the house. If your dog starts to jump on him or her the leash should pull them back.
Tell your dog to sit again and praise them for being in the sitting position; give them a treat. Let the visitor pet your dog ONLY if your dog is in the sitting position. Otherwise they should ignore your dog.
You will likely need to repeat this exercise numerous times before your dog catches on that he needs to sit when a visitor enters the house but it will teach your dog how he’s supposed to behave when someone comes through the door.
Eventually you will need to graduate to doing these exercises without your dog wearing a leash. Be sure that your dog is not going to run out the door before you try it without a leash.
Teaching Your Dog to Ask to Go Out
If your dog is housebroken (or not) but has trouble getting your attention or letting you know when he needs to go out you can teach him to make use of the door.
It’s very easy to install a small set of chimes or a bell next to the door and teach your dog to ring them when he needs to go outside.
Find a set of chimes or a bell that you like (hardware stores, home supply stores and the like usually have them) and install it at your dog’s level next to the door you use to take your dog outdoors.
When you are taking your dog outside to relieve himself begin stopping at the door and gently taking your dog’s paw to ring the chimes or bell.
Then go on and take him outside. If you do this consistently for a few days your dog should begin connecting the chimes or bell sound with going outside. It shouldn’t take too long for your dog to start ringing the chimes or bell to let you know that he needs to go out.
You can improve your dog’s door manners a great deal simply by working with him on these situations. Your dog will be safer and you will make life better for both of you. Good luck with your training!
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